On 25. and 26. May, over 40 international researchers attended the workshop “Critical Perspectives on Human Mobility in Times of Ecological and Political Crisis” at Universität Hamburg. Over the course of the two days, the participants combined findings from field research with theoretical advances from a range of disciplines, primarily the social sciences.
The experts addressed for example case studies on extreme weather events and migration in Asia and the Pacific, examined the role of gender in the context of migration, and investigated the power structures that affect refugees.
Research from a critical perspective
All of the papers presented shared a critical perspective on research, political decisions and the heated public debate over refugees. The focus was on an approach that calls into question current social inequalities and societal power relations. “For example, demands for gender-sensitive studies often remain nothing more than rhetoric. We want to use them to arrive at concrete conclusions for academic research works,” explains Dr. Christiane Fröhlich.
Selections from the workshop: Three papers from Turkey, England and France
Prof. Pinar Bilgin from Bilkent University in Ankara explored the inner-European discourse on migration in the Mediterranean, explaining how the numerous deaths in the region have now brought it onto the European Union’s agenda as a risk factor. Bilgin demonstrated how European actors are increasingly resorting to more extreme practices, such as illegally turning over refugees or intercepting boats, while human rights violations perpetrated in countries on the southern edge of the Mediterranean attract little if any criticism.
Dr. Giovanni Bettini from Lancaster University spoke on the concept of “climate refugees” and how the initial alarmist tone has since evolved into a more complex understanding of climate-related migration. Adaptation and planned resettlements are taking on a growing importance. However, Bettini also discussed a number of related problems: for example, refugees can be perceived as either well adjusted or poorly adjusted. The former are seen as needing our help; the latter are put to use in their new homes, such as seasonal farm laborers, making them an important part of the economy.
Dr. Giulia Scalettaris from Lille University accompanied the UN’s refugee support operations in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008 as part of her doctoral research. She reported on the results of her participative observation.
The workshop marked the third such event initiated by Fröhlich und Gioli and sponsored by the CliSAP-supported research network “Gender, Conflict and Climate Change.”
- Gender, Conflict and Climate Change Network
- Sonderheft „Gender, Conflict and Global Environmental Change“ in Peace Review (free access until July 22nd)